The US could have to deal with both Russia and China if it ends up at war with one of them, top intelligence officials say

  • If the US goes to war with Russia or China, it could have to deal with both adversaries at once, US intel leaders warn.

  • Russia and China have developed what they call a "no limits" partnership.

  • The two also conducted a joint military exercise near Taiwan for the first time, per a US official.

In the event of a conflict with either Russia or China, US forces may find themselves dealing with both adversaries due to their "cooperative" partnership, according to recent warnings from top US intelligence officials.

And the chance of the US finding itself at war with these rivals is much more likely now than it was a few years ago, prompting the US to revisit its thinking and military planning.

During Thursday's US Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing on worldwide threats, Avril D. Haines, director of national intelligence, and Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Kruse, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, commented on recent cooperation between Russia and China, noting that it indicated that the two could come to each other's aid in a war with the US.

In the hearing, Haines highlighted ties between the two, from military activities to economics, politics, and technology. She added that this was prompting new government planning "across the board."

When asked about whether this dynamic meant the US had to prepare to fight both adversaries at the same time should conflict begin with one, Haines said it was possible, but the likelihood "depended on the scenario." Kruse, however, said that it was a greater possibility than it was a few years ago.

"Bottom line is that, basically, if we were to have a conflict with one, the chances are we would have a second front," Kruse said.

Kruse also noted that what the Department of Defense had seen over past few years had "caused the department to relook at its analysis and become even more concerned" about joint force requirements in an environment where Russia or China could support one another in a conflict.

The "no limits" partnership between China and Russia, declared in February 2022 just before Russia invaded Ukraine, is also prompting the Pentagon to change its thinking about what potential conflict with either rival would look like.

"We are in the middle of that revision today," Kruse said.

Perhaps one of the most glaring pieces of evidence, beyond China's support for Russia's war in Ukraine and helping Russia evade sanctions, is the military cooperation pertaining to Taiwan, long a potential flashpoint.

Haines explained to the Senate committee that Russia and China conducted exercises related to Taiwan for the first time, highlighting a possibility that should China decide to pursue an invasion or blockade of the island, Russia could be involved.

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